JFK and the Unspeakable: a book review

JFK and the Unspeakable: why he died and why it matters: by James W. Douglass (2008):

Why should we care about knowing the truth about JFK’s assassination?

A poll that got a headline on Yahoo News reports that 75% of those polled do not believe the official criminal theory that JFK’s assassination was the work of a lone gunman: namely, Lee Harvey Oswald.  Significantly, only 25% of Americans believe the Warren Commission report, a vast 8 volume set that rationalizes Arlen Specter’s famous single bullet, single gunman ‘anti-conspiracy-theory’ theory.

Shouldn’t this collective doubt alone be grounds for a new, transparent investigation of JFK’s assassination?

In JFK and the Unspeakable: why he died and why it matters (2008), author James W. Douglas avails himself of the most recent revelations of the plot to kill Kennedy and provides one of the most plausible explanations for JFK’s assassination. The unspeakable is the suggestion that agents of the American security state establishment; namely, the CIA and the FBI, and the Secret Service killed the president.

While Douglas does not build a definitive criminal case (beyond a reasonable doubt), for the conspirators in JFK’s murder, this book definitely shows by a a preponderance of evidence that government agents were negligent in JFK’s death.

After reading this book, the reader is left with a preposterous but plausible explanation for Kennedy’s assassination. Essentially, the author puzzles out a motive and cover-up by government actors to show how Kennedy threatened the growth and development and policy objectives of what Eisenhower famously warned about: the danger of the military / industrial complex to American democracy.

Douglas’s analysis paints President Kennedy’s assassination as a result of Kennedy’s failure to stay on course with the national security state leaders, then led by Allen Dulles; Dulles was fired by Kennedy but was later brought back into government to act as an executive director of the Warren Commission and oversee the crafting of the Warren Commission report.

Kennedy, Douglas shows, embraced the possibility of peace in the world and sought to scale back, or temper the Cold War fever endemic among the Chiefs of Staff, the CIA and FBI.

The notion that Kennedy was a friend of the peace movement is not how he is most often portrayed; instead, though heralded as from “Camelot”, he is often portrayed as a hawk and as the one responsible for getting us into the Vietnam War.

To re-brand Kennedy as a peace president, Douglas opens his analysis with a discussion of Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk and peace advocate who was in correspondence with members of the American elite about pursuing peace given the development of the nuclear bomb and its horrible implications.

The author provides a meticulous review of events in a multiple time frame structure, but uses Merton’s call for peace as a backdrop of Kennedy’s intellectual milieu. Kennedy personally experienced the horror of war, but as president stood on the brink of nuclear annihilation and had to balance his personal views with a military establishment pushing for a first nuclear strike against Russia that would lead to millions of people dying on both sides.

One poignant take away from this revision of the Kennedy presidency as one orienting toward “not war,” is that Kennedy’s assassination then put policy on a certain “yes war” path. His death robbed the country of an alternative historical trajectory that could have put the United States on a less bellicose course than was carried out in the Vietnam War and has followed the 9/11 attacks.

Kennedy wanted to avoid nuclear war, and he saw the possibility of peace as the logical path to follow. To this end, Kennedy sought private channels for talks with Kruschev and Fidel Castro because he didn’t trust the establishment staff; to further alienate the war hawks, Kennedy sought to negotiate settlements with nationalist leaders from post-colonial countries versus waging covert war against communist opponents as was the practice.

Douglas shows how Kennedy’s experience in war tempered his attitude about it, and how his intellectual life enabled him to appreciate the absolute horror a nuclear war conjured up, but these dispositions destined him to be at odds with his State Department, Joint Chiefs of Staff, CIA, and even the Secret Service. Horrible and preposterous as this sounds, the President was betrayed by his own people.

JFK and the Unspeakable dishes up a number of eye-popping revelations that plausibly review the complicated plot that brought down the president. The total truth cannot ever be known because most of the perpetrators have died of old age and taken the truth to the grave. However, the author provides a virtual indictment of key individuals across multiple departments of government that makes a solid case for a government conspiracy to kill the president, and cover up the plot.

Douglas provides extensive footnotes to document his review of motives for and the events preceding and following the assassination.

But what is the reader to do with a book that takes you to the edge of the moral abyss and exposes you to an unspeakable horror, the same horror that reared its ugly head in the 9/11 attacks? And why does JFK’s death matter?

The author hopes a peace movement might develop that picks up where Kennedy left off in 1963. Indeed, foundational to the premise of JFK and the Unspeakable is a speech Kennedy gave to the graduating class at the American University in which he calls for peace, nuclear disarmament, respect for national movements in post-colonial countries, and unilaterally announces that the U.S. would cease atmospheric testing of hydrogen bombs (up to which time the U.S. had exploded 70 in the south pacific).

This speech shows Kennedy’s peace credentials, but also highlights the collision course he was on with agents of the national security state.

To honor Kennedy and get justice for his assassination, a peace movement must demand accountability of the government with an independent and transparent investigatory commission that would have access to all relevant information to reveal the truth about JFK’s murder, and the events of 9/11.

In writing this book about JFK, Douglas quietly invokes Ghandi’s non-violent call for a revolution that would build a world at peace, and by implication, drive governments to marshal all necessary resources to repair the earth and affirm the dignity of human-kind as eco-stewards of the earth; this vision, antithetical to the objectives and interests of the military / industrial complex, lies at the heart of understanding JFK.

Build endowment for journalism from Khashoggi justice fund.

The Honorable Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley,

 January 22, 2019

Dear Senators,

You have received my call that an endowment to journalism be made by a $1 billion dollar penalty assessed against the Saudi government on behalf of Jamal Khashoggi. Thank your for your reply.

Please see this call for Justice for Kashoggi: https://truthtopowerpdx.wixsite.com/justiceforkhashoggi

Please see this original appeal for Justice for Kashoggi: https://gijn.org/2018/10/29/jamal-khashoggi/

Within weeks of Khashoggi’s assassination, I made a call for justice for Jamal Khashoggi; I argue that the attack on Khashoggi was more than a murder of a journalist. When agents of a nation/state act with impunity to assassinate a journalist, a tremendous breach of the social order occurs, for an attack against a journalist is ultimately an attack on the institution of journalism, a necessary agency in a free society. And so, when the Crown Prince ordered the hit on Khashoggi he revealed total contempt for human rights, dignity of a free and open society, respect for rule of law. Therefore a severe sanction should be assessed against the Saudi nation that will provide a lasting measure of justice that complements the egregiousness and callousness shown by Saudi agents.

As you are in the process of designing sanctions against the Saudi government and individual members, consider the importance of using Khashoggi’s assassination as an opportunity to lever sanctions into financial penalties that will then really serve justice, for what better justice could there be than that there is an endowment that guarantees services to journalists risking their lives to speak truth to power, as endeavored Jamal Khashoggi.

Please include a penalty and plan for collecting any judgment in any laws passed to sanction Saudi Arabia for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. And identify an endowment fund to collect penalties and enumerate a process for releasing funds.

Please review this article from the Global Investigative Journalism Network, it speaks to the need for funding to support investigative and human rights oriented journalism. https://gijn.org/2016/03/17/investigative-journalism-and-foreign-aid-a-huge-return-on-investment/

The experts in the journalism industry know what journalists need to be safe and secure, but funds to support this important work is in short supply.

Critically, the law(s) needs to be written so that when a state agent acts with impunity, an investigation is triggered, a civil judgment is made, then a financial penalty is assessed, and sanctions posed to enforce the judgment.

I hope that from such a law, journalists will be held in higher esteem, and acts of impunity will trigger an expeditious process for investigating, and enable a judgment against an offending state agent, or other corrupt figure. This event will lessen the inclination of state agents to act with impunity.

Finally, I am attaching my original call, and an unpublished essay amplifying the argument in the call.

Thank you for fighting for justice for Khashoggi and for journalists world wide.


Chuck Fall

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter

The deep indignation felt by the Black Lives Matter movement is conditioned by acts of impunity carried out by law enforcement, private citizens, and other institutions. In our current era, the disproportionate number of people of color in prison and, the disproportionate shootings of African Americans by white police officers evokes lynchings of yesteryear. There has been very little to no accounting, so acts of impunity continue.

Breaking the chains of systemic racism can be accomplished if there are consequences for these modern acts of impunity. The historic lack of consequences has bred our current order. Getting a public review of the circumstances of Dr. King’s assassination would serve to break the long history of impunity. If we don’t revisit Dr. King’s death, then our nation may very well continue to be mired in enmity.

Justice for Dr. King would be a significant step toward rectifying past wrongs. Some in the Pacific Green Party of Oregon support efforts to re-open an investigation into Dr. King’s murder as a necessary tactic in a strategy to end systemic racism.

Dr. King’s assassination, and the other 1960’s assassinations, have left an invisible scar on the American psyche. A just accounting of the crime can heal our national wound because it will involve truth, justice and hopefully some form of national reconciliation.

In the case of King Family civil suit against the United States government, it was found by a preponderance of evidence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was complicit in the murder / assassination fo Dr. King; his death was an undercover lynching, the murder being pinned on a patsy, James Earl Ray. We reference the account by William Pepper in The Plot to Kill Dr. King, The Truth Behind the assassination.

The civil case demonstrated that the King assassination was a conspiracy of federal and local law enforcement that deprived Dr. King of his civil right to live and exercise his First Amendment Rights to lead the country; more deeply, his murder was a statement recognizable to African-Americans; it was another lynching in a long line of them, but the assassination of Dr. King is the most brazen of all lynchings of all time because it struck not just at Dr. King, a man, but at the ideas he espoused, and the vision for which he stood.

The assassination of Dr. King, like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a few years earlier and only months later, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, shocked the nation into a stupor that is sustained by official fraud and media complicity in concealing the truth.

The 1960’s assassinations are grounded in an attitude of impunity that stems from the earliest days of America. The country started with an Indian War, which cleared the way for the arrival of the first group of enslaved Africans in 1619. Europeans were undaunted about clearing the way for a slave society.

From the beginning of American life, a slave owner had the absolute sovereign freedom to do what he liked with a slave. Of course the goal was profit, but a recalcitrant freedom loving slave would be killed, in an act of impunity, with the goal of quelling any other dissenters from challenging the order. The colonial state aided and abetted private slave holders. Modern day police brutality, borne of an attitude of impunity, stems from slave holders having unchecked power over others.

The nation’s silence in the face of the 1960’s assassinations, and the lack of a true investigation, meant there would be no justice; the lack of accountability would embolden a further sense of impunity, such is the nature of injustice.

Only through a full disclosure of governmental malfeasance can we break the systemic acts of impunity that are at the core of systemic racism. Systemic racism, as a chain of acts of impunity, can be broken with the truth about how the United States came to be, and why there is such cruelty against people of color.

The assassination of Dr. King was presciently anticipated by Dr. King himself as he was fully aware of the consequences of calling for an end to the Vietnam War, denouncing it as a racist war, a stance Muhammad Ali heroically took in his denunciation of the American War in Vietnam.

Most significantly, Dr. King elevated achieving economic equity as a necessary step toward social justice, and so he called for equitable distribution of resources. This message was gaining traction with more people; his spreading message, tinged with Socialism, reaching into mainstream society posed a greater threat than ever before.

Justice for Dr. King will require peeling back the lies of deception and placing blame where it is due; on actual people in the power structure who have not been prosecuted; as a result there has been no accountability, just as countless earlier lynchings in the American South continued with impunity well into the 1960’s, the cruel deed continues today in the form of police brutality and mass incarceration of people of color.

Some in the Pacific Green Party are inspired by Dr. King’s message and the goals he had for society. We demand justice and an accounting from the government for Dr. King’s assassination; we see this as a first step for undoing systemic racism. We need to return in spirit to 1968, and demand justice and not let up till it’s done. By this tact, we can reclaim historic possibilities denied by Dr. King’s untimely death.

We the people of the Green Party invite African Americans and all people of color and others who feel the call, to make our party your political home; join us in support of Dr. King’s call for economic equity; let us mobilize the movement to accomplish what Dr. King envisioned for America.